An Iranian-American oil executive was detained earlier this month by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as competing political factions wrestle for control over the country’s energy development plans.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum Siamak Namazi was arrested by the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps while visiting family in Tehran.
A source close to the matter told Reuters that Namazi has been called in for questioning several times during the past fourth months and is currently being held in solitary confinement.
The source added that Namazi, who lives in Dubai, has been barred from leaving Iran since July.
A senior Obama administration official told the news wire that the U.S. government is aware of the reports and is investigating the matter.
“We’re looking into these reports and don’t have anything further to provide at this time,” the source said.
Namazi is among several executives who have reportedly been held by the Guard and warned against interfering in the group’s monopolies, the Journal said.
The Guard reports to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.
The Rouhani administration has been courting foreign energy investment since signing a nuclear deal earlier this year that promises to roll back EU and U.S. oil sanctions in return for curbed nuclear development.
The oil rich country is hoping to attract as much as $185 billion in new energy projects by 2020 and also plans to revise its contract model.
Iranian Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said earlier this year that Iran hopes to boost exports to Europe and focus on developing its oil and gas, metals and car industries.
However, some Iranian officials are reluctant to allow foreign investors into the country’s energy sector.
Western sanctions have restricted the country’s oil exports to 1 million barrels per day since 2012, down from a high of 2.5 million
The country currently produces about 3.5 million barrels of crude per day, according to OPEC.